New Apps for Dementia Patients

Many of us have grandchildren who are preteens. They play sports, enjoy video games and texting, and spend a lot of their time socializing with their friends. Academically, many preteens are discovering STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in school, and schools are trying to hone those skills with extracurricular activities in computers, mathematics, and robotics. One preteen in particular, Emma Yang, has taken her interest in computers and programming to a whole new level, in an effort to communicate with her grandmother who has dementia and barely remembers her.

Emma, who resides in New York, became frustrated in trying to connect with her grandmother, who lives in Hong Kong. Emma describes how, for her grandmother, the struggle to make a call and recognize a friend or family member has become increasingly difficult as her dementia progresses. In an effort to regain communication with her beloved grandmother, and assist other dementia patients, their caregivers, and their families, Emma created “Timeless,” an app that uses facial recognition software. The name “Timeless,” was chosen because despite the difficulties of the illness, dementia patients “should be able to cherish the timeless moments in life with friends and family.” According to Emma, her App helps dementia patients “recognize their loved ones, remember events, and stay connected and engaged with the people around them.”

At her young age, Emma had basic programming knowledge, but never created a full-blown app before. Her father, a software engineer, helped her with the technical areas of the project, and she also received feedback from a doctor who specializes in dementia. For the facial recognition component of the app, she used a platform developed by a startup in Miami called Kairos. They helped her through the process of implementing her app and making sure it worked.

Emma did market research and found out that the Timeless app is the first of its kind that directly addresses problems of memory loss and confusion.

What Timeless can do:

  • It’s not unusual for a dementia patient to make multiple phone calls to the same person in a short period of time. If Timeless detects that, the app will stop the call and ask, “are you sure you want to make this call?”
  • Those with dementia often have the inability to remember names. Timeless includes tools such as facial recognition that help to deal with this, and even a button to remind the patient of his or her own name. When given a photo of a person, the app compares it with a pre-enrolled one and identifies who the person is. In the app, the user can recognize who is in front of them.
  • The app provides family and friends with a means of updating their activities to keep the patient involved.

Emma’s “Timeless” app is a fully-functional prototype right now, but she plans to further develop it, test it on dementia patients, and roll it out by the end of this year.

Other Innovative Dementia Apps

● Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, a Harvard Professor, and his team built Spark Memories Radio, an algorithm-based music streaming service for people with dementia. The app selects tunes based on a patient’s birthday and a few other easy-to-answer questions, then generates a playlist of songs that should affect the music memory part of the brain the most.

MindMate supports those living with dementia, no matter if you are a caregiver, family member, or someone diagnosed with the disease. According to its Website, those who use the app will “improve self-management, be independent as long as possible, and the app will help you treasure your most important memories, so that they don’t get lost!”

Let’s Create! Pottery: With this app, you can touch the screen to make pottery by throwing clay on a virtual wheel. You can smooth the sides of the pots by dragging your finger across the screen and create a collection of pots of different shapes and sizes. This app creates a relaxing, therapeutic experience for individuals with dementia, particularly those who have creative interests.

My House of Memories is a free app that allows those with dementia to explore objects from the past and share memories with loved ones. One of the great features of this app is that someone living with dementia can use it to create their own “memory tree,” where they can save their favorite objects, photos, and videos and can look at them whenever they wish. This memory tree can then be shared with only the people you’d like to share it with.

CleverMind includes cognitive training tools such as games and puzzles, as well as food and nutrition tools and medical information, for those with dementia and their loved ones. The app also serves as an easy-to-use access to the internet and social networking. You can connect to a simplified version of Facebook through the app and set up customized big pre-set buttons to people’s favorite websites. CleverMind is currently only available for iOS devices.

If you have a loved one with dementia, we hope you both find these apps helpful and enjoyable!

Dementia Planning at the Farr Law Firm

Dementia Planning involves a unique and complex combination of estate planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, asset protection, and nursing home planning, and requires a specialized knowledge of the legal and financial problems and issues that are unique to families dealing with this devastating illness. At the Farr Law Firm, our dementia planning team focuses on the financial and legal issues surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. We provide life-long guidance, management, and oversight on vital issues such as medical and nursing care, housing options, financial management, estate planning, asset protection, Medicaid eligibility, and more.

It is never too late or too early to begin Medicaid Planning. In fact, many clients come to us when a loved one is already in a nursing home for long-term care. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection can be started any time after a person enters the “long-term care continuum,” meaning that a person is starting to need assistance with Activities of Daily Living (eating, dressing, bathing, toileting, transferring, and walking) or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (such as cooking, cleaning, caring for pets, paying bills, and managing finances).

Because each individual’s situation is unique, it is imperative that you meet with us to discuss your specific situation. Please call us as soon as possible to make an appointment for an initial consultation:

Fairfax Dementia Planning: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Dementia Planning: 540-479-1435
Rockville Dementia Planning: 301-519-8041
DC Dementia Planning: 202-587-2797

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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